I am full of joy and expectation to be writing again in this space.
I was unsure about returning this summer. As I began my break, it was apparent, I was more exhausted than envisioned. I felt empty of words and couldn’t see a clear path or direction before me. It is a huge disservice to attempt to manufacture content, a pause was wise and beneficial.
Resting is vitally essential for all of us. Somehow I had succumbed to a belief that the collective shut down of life was restful. I had slowed down but the constant changing tides of any given day took a toll. I pushed back many of my emotions related to the pandemic and racial tensions to the background and kept going.
I say to you today, don’t mistake this time of being less busy with outside of the home pursuits as any less taxing. We all need time to reflect, grieve, process, and reassess. Even usual summertime activities are different than in the past. We have lost our care-free existence and spontaneity and I am guessing even if this wasn’t a normal bent, it would be welcomed right now.
My time away from this blog didn’t feel different during the first two weeks. Life continued with more in-person gatherings with my children but even being in the company of my nearest and dearest still brings an element of feeling risky and foreign. We spent a few days in two cabins along the Columbia Gorge, a precious family memory. We felt safe and secluded and did not take for granted the blessing of those days. We had our masks when we did venture into any area with people which was twice on a waterfall hike and to pick up take-out one evening.
I woke up early each morning to spend time with God and to simply watch the water from the deck. It wasn’t easy to rouse my sleepy self but the steadiness of keeping rhythms, no matter what, has deepened in me. It was a gift to be away from home and endeavoring to not squander a moment. However, not a lot of words were written except for some scribbles in my journal.
Then my guys went camping and this was the first time I had more than an hour in our home alone since March. I adore my people but I crave silence and solitude and they know it. The anticipation of words and fear of none appearing were my companions. I have learned and this time was no exception, the words come but not on command. It takes time to surrender to silence and slow the pleading pulse of anticipation.
Ever land on the most brilliant idea when soaped up in the shower without a pen at hand? Being silent allowed me to hear again and mostly when I wasn’t thinking about writing.
Since March, I have asked God to entrust me with words like He gave manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. I am learning to trust He will give me just enough words for each week. Although I now have a page full of bullet points, I know all the thoughts could turn into a solitary post. It’s disappointing as I long to be “ahead” but it’s truly the way of the Master to dispense what I need. I can view this as crumbs when in reality it is a basketful of bread, broken with plenty to share.
We live in an upside-down world. It’s difficult to behold beauty but also stare straight into the realities of despair and heartbreak. My nasturtiums have been growing along our fence with gusto with flowers erupting in colors beyond the typical yellows and oranges. But this week, I turned over a few leaves, only to find tightly affixed black dotted clusters of bugs. I know these pesky bugs from past seasons and can never rid my plants of them before they choke out life. I have two options. I can ignore the bugs pretending they don’t exist until they spread to every plant, creating mass casualties. Or I can gently remove the infected leaves and in some cases plants, protecting the healthy ones.
I am fighting for joy in the midst of despair and wading through misinformation. I am choosing to not ignore the brutal parts of life and doing what I can do when life feels out of control. Sometimes it is simply to take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, and unclench my jaw and hands. I look to the shades of my flowers knowing there are forces that can and at times want to assault my joy and stability. I will enjoy them at the moment without fear and obsessing about what might be on the underside.
I am back to living with my people again and as Oregon has declared, this will be the way for quite a while. This wasn’t a surprise but being refreshed helped me to surrender to this sustained reality. I needed time alone however it is a mistake to believe I can’t find solitude when my home is inhabited by others. I just need to be a bit more creative.
My challenge to you is to look for patches of solitude this week. Here are some ideas to help fuel your creativity.
- Get up early and watch the sunrise.
- Stay up late and stargaze.
- Watch less news.
- Hold your phone less.
- Watch a butterfly or a bee.
- Close your eyes. If you fall asleep, you needed a deeper rest.
- It bears repeating, take a nap.
- Pick one hour each day or even 15 minutes to simply do nothing. Let your mind wander. Allow the silence to offer a surprise landing of thoughts or ideas revealed.
- Walk around your yard or garden. Don’t water, prune, pull a weed, or even harvest. Simply marvel at creation and hear the sound of your footsteps, the birds of the air, and the sound of your breath enlarging and also softening.
- Seek ladybugs. Number the dragonflies.
- Sit and watch the moon rise. In fact, make it a point to see every phase of the moon this month.
- Blow bubbles and watch each one pop. Muse about how our days are like bubbles, fleeting, yet beautiful and full of wonder. Marvel how at any age, bubbles never cease to bring a smile and cause us to look up.
- Sit in your favorite chair inside or outside with a frosty beverage and just be wonderful you.
Fill each day with the essentials and plenty of margins to be still and quiet.
May each day provide moments of quiet.
May we access our need for silence and solitude.
May we release the uncontrollable and embrace wonder.
May we fight for joy especially on days where it feels like we are in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
May we know and believe, whatever the cluster of pesky bugs in our lives, it will not dismantle or steal our joy.
May we be like bubbles to one another.